The timing of the publication of the renegotiated .com registry contract may give Verisign and ICANN the chance to duck some criticism about its price-raising powers.
Verisign is expected to have secured a large share of the burgeoning market for new gTLD back-end registry services.
It is whispered that a great many North American brands planning to apply for their own dot-brand gTLDs prefer Verisign as their registry provider, due to its reputation for stability.
That up-time is of course provided by a robust, distributed infrastructure paid for over the years by the same .com registrants now facing four more years of price increases.
It’s debatable whether Verisign can continue to make a convincing public interest case for .com price hikes if it’s also profiting by hosting dot-brands on the same boxes and pipes.
But because the public comment period closes April 26 and ICANN does not plan to publish the new gTLD applications until May 2, the argument that Verisign is using .com buyers to subsidize its dot-brand business will have to be made without hard data to back it up.
I doubt such arguments would be heard anyway, frankly. ICANN pretty much has its hands bound by the 2006 contract when it comes to messing around with pricing controls.
For those opposed to price increases, a more effective lobbying strategy might head straight to Washington DC, where the Departments of Commerce and Justice will both study the deal from September.